Thelma Josephine Walker was a loving and devoted mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. She departed this life and gained her angel wings on Saturday, July 1, 2023. Thelma was 102.
Thelma was born on March 7, 1921, to the late Frank and Maude (Lewis) Dunham. Her childhood was spent in Phelps County, mostly in and around Edgar Springs; her father worked on the farms in the area. She was surrounded by eight rambunctious, but adoring, brothers and sisters. Thelma attended school up to the eighth grade, then she went to work to help support the family. She went to work at a hotel in Newburg, Mo., and would go home to see her family on her day off if she could find a ride. Her parents didn’t own a car so she hitched a ride anyway she could; if she couldn’t find a ride it would be weeks before she could see her family.
Thelma was united in marriage to Lloyd Brooks in 1936. This union was blessed with three children. Thelma was mostly a single mother and worked very hard to support the children and herself.
Our mother was our family’s greatest gift. We could never love, revere or value another person more. If you were familiar with her, you knew of her charm, her hilarious sense of humor, her well-timed witty remarks, her beauty, her sense of fashion (long before influencers came around), and her ability to make everyone around her feel comfortable and cared for.
There was nothing that Thelma loved more than a good garage sale. In the many girl trips, she would take with her daughter, Barb, to go see her son, Ron, in Cabot, Ark., (usually about a four-hour drive) it would take them six- or seven-hours due to yard sale signs. She enjoyed getting dressed up and going to lunch with the girls, which included her sister, Virginia, who was living in Rolla at that time. Thelma never went anywhere without her hair, makeup, and a very catchy outfit. She was “THE” fashionista of her time; she loved clothes and always looked nice; she lived by the motto “everyday is a fashion show and the world is your runway.”
Thelma was a hard worker; after she retired in St. Louis, she moved back to her beloved Edgar Springs, and went to work for Senior Companions in Rolla. She worked there until she was 96. The seniors to whom she was companion were all younger than she was. She was a member of the First Assembly of God Church of Rolla.
Thelma Josephine Walker is survived by her children, Barbara Brooks-Jordan and husband Elva, of Edgar Springs, Renee Warren Newton, of Moscow Mills, and Ron Brooks and wife Lana, of Cabot, Ark.; brothers, Bill Dunham and wife Rosalie, of Edgar Springs, and Jim Dunham and wife Linda, of Haze, Kan.; sisters, Virginia Ledbetter, of O’Fallon, and Sue Dunham, of Rolla; 11 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 18 great-great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
In addition to her parents, Frank and Maude Dunham, she was preceded in death by her daughter, Glenda Brooks-Warren; sisters, Dorothy Gibbs and Laura Dunham; brothers, Frankie Dunham and Kenneth “Tinker” Dunham; grandson, Randy Warren; and granddaughter, Linda Brown.
Funeral services for Thelma were held on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at 1 p.m. at the Rolla Chapel of the James & Gahr Mortuary, with Ray Cook officiating. Interment followed at the Edgar Springs Cemetery. A visitation for family and friends was held at the Chapel prior to the service from 11 a.m. until service time.